Starting a new job is probably one of the biggest transitions we experience as adults. Yes, it’s exciting—but it’s always a little reminiscent of the first day of school: a blend of stress, nerves, and pressure to remember a whole bunch of new stuff.
So, needless to say, when you have a new employee, the way you welcome him or her onto your team will make a crucial first impression. That means, even if your company provides formal training, it’s just as important to incorporate some activities of your own as well.
Here are a few ways to help a new employee adjust—ways that are much less overwhelming, arguably more helpful, and definitely more fun than the traditional onboarding processes.
1. Play Tour Guide
It’s standard for a new employee to get a tour on the first day, where the typical highlights include the restrooms and the cafeteria. But it’s also important to show a newbie the lesser-known locations—the mailroom, the security office, and, of course, where to find the best coffee. (This hits close to home—I once started a job where it took me two long weeks before I finally found the microwave!) Work with your colleagues to create a short list of places worth a visit, and include them as part of your introductions.
2. Make Connections
When a new person joins your team, it’s natural to introduce her to people. But think about how you feel when you meet a million people in the same day: It’s pretty tough to remember all those new names, roles, and faces.
To make introductions a little more strategic, put together a list of key contacts to meet, and provide some background on each of person—name, title, and role with the company. Write it all down, and give it to her. If you know of any common ties between your new team member and another person, call that out, too (for example: they’re both huge baseball fans, or both have young children). This little cheat sheet will be a seriously helpful way for her to remember new contacts and kick-start the process of building relationships.
3. Wine and Dine
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but make sure your new employee has lunch plans her first few days on the job, with you or with other people you think she should meet. Nothing feels more lonely than sitting alone in a new cafeteria, unsure if you were supposed to bring your food or if you missed the team lunch run. You can also plan a happy hour for her second or third week—a good chance for her to get to know others in a casual setting.
4. Provide Resources
Pull together a list of go-to resources for new employees to explore—things like annual reports, the company intranet and website, and any recent marketing materials. While it may sound painful to thumb through old files, reports and presentations from years past are valuable tools to help someone get acclimated before she gets off and running. (Just make sure you’re not providing too much at once, or you may get a deer-in-headlights reaction.)
5. Be Available
Finally, remember that it’s natural for anyone to get confused or frustrated when they’re faced with a steep learning curve. So make yourself available a few times a day to check in, and encourage her to ask questions. The more comfortable you can make your employee feel in her new environment, the faster she’ll feel like a part of the team (and the faster she can start really diving into her work).
Starting a new position is stressful for anyone, but as a manager, you can make the transition a whole lot smoother. Take the time to help your new employee feel welcome and comfortable and support her as she learns the ropes of her new gig. Remember: the more time you’re able to invest in the beginning, the faster you’ll have a dynamite team member—and the better off you’ll start your relationship with her.